Top Legionella Prevention Tips for Large Educational Facilities
In large educational facilities with complex water networks, such as schools, colleges, and universities, the risk of Legionella can be significantly heightened. Here, we’ll share our top prevention tips to ensure your educational institution remains compliant, secure, and most importantly, safe for all its occupants.
What Is Legionella?
Legionella is a type of bacteria commonly found in natural water sources, such as rivers and lakes, but it can also thrive in man-made water systems, particularly when conditions are optimal. These bacteria cause Legionnaires’ disease, a serious type of pneumonia that can lead to severe health complications, and in some cases, can be fatal.
Why Legionella Prevention Is Essential
In educational institutions, with extensive and complex water systems, the risks of Legionella can be magnified. The bacteria can multiply in various water environments including air conditioning systems, showers, taps, and even drinking fountains. Schools, colleges, and universities, with their dense populations, can become potential hotspots for Legionella outbreaks if preventive measures aren’t put in place.
Moreover, it’s important to highlight the significance of compliance with regulatory standards like ACOP L8 and HSG274. Non-compliance can result in substantial financial penalties, but the impact goes beyond fiscal concerns. Failing to control Legionella effectively can jeopardise the health and safety of students, staff, and visitors, which can lead to reputational damage and a loss of trust within the community.
Regulatory Compliance for Educational Institutions
Educational institutions are required by law to comply with various health and safety regulations, including those specific to the control of Legionella. Two key pieces of guidance in the UK are the ACOP L8 and HSG274.
ACOP L8, the Approved Code of Practice and Guidance on regulations concerning the control of Legionella bacteria in water systems, is published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It outlines the responsibilities of those in control of premises (such as educational institutions), including the need for regular risk assessments, implementation of suitable control measures, and ongoing monitoring and maintenance of water systems.
HSG274, also published by the HSE, is a more specific technical guidance on controlling Legionella in various types of water systems, including cooling systems and hot and cold water services.
Non-compliance with these regulations can lead to substantial penalties, including fines and even imprisonment in severe cases. But more than this, failing to adhere to these guidelines can put the health and safety of students, staff, and visitors at risk.
6 Top Tips for Legionella Prevention in Schools & Universities
- Regular Legionella Risk Assessments
Conducting regular Legionella risk assessments is a key element of Legionella control as stipulated by ACOP L8. These assessments help identify potential areas where Legionella could proliferate and present a health risk. They provide the foundation for developing an effective Legionella control scheme and should be reviewed regularly and whenever significant changes occur to the water system or its use.
- Water System Maintenance
Keeping water systems clean, functional, and free of stagnation can significantly reduce the risk of Legionella. Regular inspections, maintenance, and prompt repair of any defects are all essential components of an effective Legionella control scheme.
- Temperature Control
Legionella bacteria thrive in a specific temperature range, typically between 20°c and 45°C. Controlling water temperatures, therefore, plays a crucial role in Legionella risk management. Hot water should be stored at 55°C or above, and cold water should be kept below 20°C where practicable.
Maintaining thorough records is a requirement for regulatory compliance. Accurate and up-to-date records of risk assessments, system inspections, and any corrective actions taken demonstrate an institution’s commitment to managing Legionella risks effectively.
- Staff Training
Training relevant staff about the risks of Legionella and the necessary control measures is another key aspect of effective Legionella management. Knowledgeable staff can help identify potential risk areas, understand the importance of control measures in place, and react quickly if issues arise.
- Rapid Response
Despite preventive measures, Legionella may still occasionally be detected in water systems. Having a rapid response plan in place ensures that swift and effective action is taken to mitigate the risk and prevent a potential outbreak.
Guardian Hygiene Services Can Prevent Legionella
Meeting the stringent demands of Legionella control and compliance can be daunting. However, with Guardian Hygiene Services’ expertise and recognition from esteemed bodies like the Legionella Control Association, Constructionline, CHAS, SafeContractor, and the BSI, rest assured that you have a trustworthy ally in maintaining a safe and compliant educational setting.
After the initial risk assessment, your school can benefit from our suite of Legionella services, specifically designed for prevention in educational institutions:
For a more comprehensive understanding or to take the first step towards preventing Legionella in your educational facility, ill out an enquiry form or contact our expert advisors. We stand ready to assist in safeguarding your educational establishment.